AS THE AUTHOR OF THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO GREENING YOUR BUSINESS AND THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO GREEN LIVING, TRISH RILEY RECENTLY TOURED ONE OF CALIFORNIA'S GREEN WINERIES. HERE SHE GIVES US HER IMPRESSIONS OF ITS BIODYNAMIC GROWING PRACTICES.
Kathy Benziger-Threlkeld welcomed me to her family's business with a warm greeting under an apple tree in a courtyard garden. She quickly ushered me into an electric golf cart equipped with blankets, umbrellas, and water should the fall day become uncomfortable, and we took off on the winding, hilly paths that cut through the mountainside winery.
Photo: Benziger Family Winery
Nestled into the edge of Sonoma Mountain in California's glorious countryside, the vineyard is situated on what was once a volcano. Wappo Indians lived on the land for more than 4,000 years, evidenced by the obsidian arrowheads they created from the lava rock.
After the volcano had burned out and become extinct, its top collapsed, creating a bowl shape. "I like to think of it as a wine goblet," Kathy said. It was layered with thick, rich volcanic soil and covered with vegetation in all hues of green sprinkled with a rainbow of spectacular colors.
We quietly rolled up to a row of vines sporting golden, red, and husky green leaves as well as gleaming clusters of deep blue grapes. She reached out and snared a few, handing them off to me for a taste. I was enchanted, and curious.
She quickly shepherded us back onto the cart, and we wheeled away from the rows of sunlit vines to a small, lush garden, multicolored with herbs, fruit trees, and tall grasses. As I surveyed the varieties in the garden, she uncovered a cooler and pulled out a pair of crystal wine glasses, then poured a sample, explaining, "This sauvignon is made from the grapes we just tasted."